Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic Biomedical Research Program

Researchers in the Biomedical Research Program in Pediatric Orthopedics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are investigating the mechanisms that control skeletal development and growth throughout life and how aberrations in those mechanisms cause disease.

Our researchers focus on:

Data and insights gained from basic fundamental studies help us to envision what may be the pathogenic mechanisms of musculoskeletal diseases including: hereditary multiple exostoses (HME), heterotopic ossification (HO), muscular dystrophies, joint disease, and tendon-ligaments defects and trauma.

These predictions are then tested in experimental models of disease. The ultimate goal is to create novel and effective biologic treatments that could be used in combination with surgical interventions to heal and restore musculoskeletal health and function for individuals. 

Our 21-member team includes five faculty members, six post-doctoral fellows, seven research technicians, a laboratory assistant, graduate student and program manager. 

Active research studies

Read some highlights of five biomedical research studies our investigators are currently working on:


Maurizio Pacifici, PhD, Director of Research

pacifici-maurizioDr. Pacifici’s biomedical research focuses on the mechanisms that control skeletal development and growth and synovial joint formation in fetal and postnatal life. Emphasis is on the identification of molecular regulators that are involved in the commitment, determination and differentiation of progenitor skeletal cells and on the use of the resulting information to create new treatments for diseases such as hereditary multiple exostoses (HME) and heterotopic ossification (HO). 

View Dr. Pacifici's bio.

Masahiro Iwamoto, DDS, PhD

iwamoto-masahiroDr. Iwamoto’s biomedical research centers on molecular mechanisms that control skeletal growth at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. He is interested in how information on these basic mechanisms could be used to stimulate cartilage and bone repair, and how aberrations in those mechanisms lead to acquired conditions such as heterotopic ossification (HO).

View Dr. Iwamoto's bio.

Motomi Enomoto-Iwamoto, DDS, PhD

enomoto-iwanoto-motomiDr. Enomoto-Iwamoto’s biomedical research focuses on cellular and signaling mechanisms that regulate skeletal development and function. She is particularly studying how aberrant regulation of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling leads to pathological conditions including cartilage tumors and osteoarthritis. She is also interested in the role of local progenitor cells in articular cartilage and tendon repair.

View Dr. Enomoto-Iwamoto's bio.

Eiki Koyama, DDS, PhD 

koyama-eikiDr. Koyama’s biomedical research focuses on morphogenetic mechanisms that control limb and craniofacial skeletal formation and organization. He is interested in how these mechanisms could be used to stimulate tissue regeneration, how changes in these mechanisms may cause congenital conditions, and how therapeutic strategies could be designed based on these findings to treat acquired musculoskeletal conditions such as malfunction and osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint.

View Dr. Koyama's bio.

Paul C. Billings, PhD

Dr. Billings' biomedical research examines the roles that cytokines and growth factors have in the growth and pathologies of the skeleton. Several of these factors bind to, and interact with, heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) that are essential cell surface- and matrix-associated macromolecules. One primary focus of interest is the pathophysiology of Hereditary Multiple Exostoses (HME), a pediatric disorder characterized by HS deficiency and formation of benign cartilaginous tumors near the growth plates. These tumors can cause a variety of problems that include growth retardation, skeletal deformities and chronic pain. Thus, the goals of Dr. Billings’ current research efforts are to elucidate the role(s) of HSPGs and interacting factors in skeletal growth and abnormalities. He is also exploring new therapeutic ways to influence HS production that could be used to correct HS deficiency and pathologies during HME.

View Dr. Billings's bio.

Other research team members

Program manager

Postdoctoral fellows

Research technicians

Laboratory assistant

Graduate Student

More information

To learn more about CHOP’s biomedical research into pediatric orthopedics, see The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute.

Reviewed by: Maurizio Pacifici, PhD
Date: September 2013

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From Bench to Bedside

Discoveries in the laboratory are being brought to the bedside sooner because of the collaboration between CHOP's biomedical and clinical research teams. Learn more about our clinical orthopedic research.